Monday, May 24, 2010


This weekend we reworked the back garden. It's been a project to remove concrete, add lawn space, plant the vegetable garden and spruce up the flower beds. I wanted to add a stone wall. I have rather soft spot for dry fit stone walls. We found a good stone yard and took a look on Saturday. The children loved snooping around all the accoutrements of the 'rock store'. The fountains, rock walls, pavers, fountains, et cetera, all delightful.

Our kids are good helpers. I come for a house that was always more into chores than sports; I keep up the 'get to work' expectation. When we went to the stone yard to collect the supplies for our project the kids brought their garden gloves. We picked our own rocks for 7 cents less a pound than you pay for a skid. It was slow going but we got the job done; and, we did it together.

The rock store was fine but it's one of those places you feel you are annoying the staff just to ask a question. They are obviously trying to dual track their service from only for trades to some place they can harvest big $$$ from clueless yuppies, like m'self. They were pretty bad at answering inquiries or otherwise moving us along. And, to top it off quick to deliver a sneer for taking too long on the scale or letting my children touch their crud. P-man was kinda embarrassed. Me? NOT AT ALL. I have HAD IT with people being overly mouthy about how long I take to do things with my 3 and 5 yo. I am calling the spade a spade... I won't put my kids away. You can throw all the Kids meals and IKEA ball rooms at me that you like but I'm not interested. I'm not a quality parent, eh. I'm a quantity parent, the kids come with me. The glares are wasted this time.

Is it just me or is it a bit of scam all the 'kids stuff' and 'family rooms' and 'nursing areas'. Are they some special place for us or tell me don't you just wonder a little if we're being shunted or shunned? Keep out? Keep away? When I look at how sniffy folks are that children might be slow to complete their restaurant orders or to -- for example -- load a truck with 1000lbs of basalt rock.. it sits a bit wrong. Slow down society. Get some tolerance. Get over yourself.

I am the sorta Mom who will take her kid to work, I do not avoid grocery shopping, housecleaning, dinner parties or regular restaurants with my kids. I expect them to be developing to be members of the whole society and not just some plastic coated, comes with a chocolate treat or face paint sort of existence. It is hard. It is embarrassing at times, yes, but it's where we will be so the children can learn to behave. I admit it maybe I don't know the boundaries of righteous behaviour any more? What I'm wondering here is whether there's some new unwritten rule that children should not only not be heard, but they shouldn't even be seen?

Tell me have you ever had a time when you were 99% sure your whole family should be allowed to be somewhere but the tone suggested otherwise?

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

the Near Miss

Last week I flipped out about missing Northern Voice. I knew Dave Cormier was going to be there. I follow Dave. I knew what he was going to talk about.

I needed that talk.

I was struggling with a coming congress on ebooks: yes/no for schools as textbooks, novel studies, library books. I am also committed to producing a system rattling presentation to 100+ school librarians over the next 3 weeks. An urging to weed down collections, build new spaces for critical thinking -- that are physical and digital -- a talk to reconnect us with library principles of collection management and selections. I wanted to go to Northern Voice. I felt what I needed might, in some measure, be there. I kinda knew a girl. I sent out a plaintive tweet, feeling sorry for myself. Like a Wonka ticket by the next day I'd scored. I would get to go. I would be able to get the talk.

... Then ... I missed it.

In buying a drink for the person who sponsored me... in indulging in one more of my rants on publishing futures for children's literature to a new acquaintance... in walking in the sun I missed most of Dave's talk. Stumbled in late and saw that last slide "tyranny of the book". I knew what I had missed. I heard @jbmurray's whole piece of the talk. Saw Dave long enough to say hi, sure, but I'd missed IT...

Or did I...?

You see I was there all day. I was in the #nv10 and it was an exceptional day for me. An exercise in putting myself out there, all of myself. The mother-woman part, the @maryakem and even the legal name me who was printed right there on my name tag. I didn't meet 200 people. I met 12. And I think they were the vital 12. I hit on good sessions. I felt integrated to a number of important conversations, for me, on twitter. I said some silly stuff but a couple good ideas and perspectives also came. I was very much there. And it was a good place to find what I felt I needed.

Did I mention Dave Cormier was there? I'm sort of connected to him. It's not personal. It's a system. I won't bore with any details; they are of little consequence. I was there in that place exceptionally close to his talk. An exceptional presentation of a critical perspective he brings to a dialogue I am a part of and flagging under for its importance. I watched a recording of Dave today for what I missed, and you know...

I missed nothing. I am caught up. More than caught up...

In all its asynchronicity, the centre holds. What's 15 minutes between good research and learning? NB: @davecormier has a certain consistency that, for lack of better words, does transcend time and space. It is intrinsic to the message - or what I took of it -- yesterday and in the other online resources I have already (or again)...

...the access we need to knowledge is to be unbound from print and sequential pagination. I found it could be unbound from the clock/calendar of a conference. We don't schedule learning we find it. We find it in libraries of so many kinds today.

I will spend next week trying to convince librarians to unbind knowledge from the opening hours of their libraries, to take down shelves and focus on the finding. I will do that better with clarity on how sense of place/space is core. I'm hopeful this will make a lot of bookworms better able to deal with the aggressive weeding I'm advocating.

The talk gave me what I needed to secure the knowledge and to release myself from self doubt because I was there that Saturday. I was there with @wakemp and with @HHG and with Bon's husband, my friend Kerry and the owner of Dexter the dog and that we r connected. The strictures that make me wonder 'am I missing something?' were undone. As much as the talk that's what I needed.

ps. I feel it is our responsibility as librarians to help people let go of books. Books are our brand and we should protect them from the drek or near misses they can be.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

The end of assvice?

I have been working a lot in the area of shifting publishing and more and more I find my identities crossing over. Mother. Woman. Librarian. "Blogger". Twit. I am happy about that since I actually started the Mother-Woman blog back in 2005 to weather the fracturing of identity I faced when I returned to work that autumn a mother surely but unsure how to be a hyphenated mother.

To this day, though I do it so infrequently now... I do still like the blogging. I was so excited to hear my friend and mommy-to-meta-blogger Kerry is presenting at Northern Voice a Vancouver blogger event I am going to for both personal and professional reasons. 1.) let me rankle.. the NV folks better not be billing my best mommyblogger peeps just to attract the inevitable, Mommy Bloggers you suck press coverage from the top flight proprietary news outlets. And 2.) aren't social media threads for parenting information just the best thing ever invented???

As I spend more time, as a librarian, thinking about what is happening to the quality (qualities?) of information a bit of an aha moment. I keep looking for the points of disconnection between the information sources we've had and the new options. Do you agree with me when I say it's not just about convenience it's about credibility? I mean if you share my low-ish opinion of the parenting books from main stream publishers blogging makes inordinate sense. If we asked the question what's so great about parent blogging? Well yeah it's because it is better and more credible than those books. Parenting that's about a social as it gets, innit?

And, if you ask bon... well what about the genres. We need to reshuffle the deck on voice. As I wade through they myriad of choice for information sources in schools day by day I never make up my mind. Organize by format? By access.. by discipline. Well like one of my best friends said to me when I had my first baby "Repeat after me. Your guess is as good as mine"!

And, that's peer review for ya nowadays, innit?

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Whither the empathy

You know I do have a tendency to obsess that my kids are well-socialized and lovable. We have a good friend who once said, to the great disdain of p-man, she wants her kids to be popular. This is more important to her than being smart.

I know what she means. I have my frustrations with my kids not rocking the free world in their piano or writing skills. I get annoyed when they are picky eaters. It drives me crazy that when they don't obey... But really what pains me.. what slays me is their being spurned, their social failures and the sense of exclusion they experience from time to time.

My Girl Friday was driven to tears this week when she handed over an I Love You picture to a 'friend' at school. The classmate just flatly refused the picture and then topped it off with a comment about her "real friends" who are bigger. I know all the dogma that says small children need a lot of our attention but days like that day make me feel for our bigger kids. When I chat to soon to be back to work moms I do say that there is never a good or a bad time to be stay-at-home. Kids need a lot and always ... but when they are 13 months let's face it you don't really worry who's gonna hurt their feelings. Of late these school days really do get me down.

And, hey, little people ... whither the empathy? If you promise me nothing can we all make the point to our kids this week. If someone gets hurt and is crying; give a damn.. maybe even a hug.

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